The man who was driving the vehicle that collided with actor Treat Williams‘ motorcycle, resulting in the Hallmark star’s death at age 71 on June 12, 2023, has been formally charged. After the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s office completed its review of the crash, 35-year-old creative director Ryan Koss was charged on August 1 with “grossly negligent operation with death,” according to a press release from the Vermont State Police (VSP).
The VSP’s release stated, “The prosecutor’s office requested that the Vermont State Police issue a citation on a charge of grossly negligent operation with death resulting to Ryan Koss, 35, of Dorset, who was driving the Honda Element SUV that turned into the path of Mr. Williams’ motorcycle.”
Witnesses have said the “Chesapeake Shores” star was conscious at the scene, but after being airlifted to Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, according to police, Williams was pronounced dead that evening from “severe trauma and blood loss as a result of the crash.” Williams was wearing a helmet, the VSP statement said.
Koss, according to the Manchester Journal, was a fellow creative who had recently been promoted to a leadership position with the Dorset Theatre Festival, which Williams had been involved with, too. The charge against Koss came one day after Williams’ family — wife Pamela Van Sant and their grown children Ellie, 25, and Gill, 31 — posted a photo and update from a celebration of life service held for Williams.
Here’s what you need to know:
Theater Executive Who Collided With Treat Williams’ Motorcycle Could Face Up to 15 Years in Prison
According to the VSP release, police contacted Koss the evening of August 1 and he met voluntarily with troopers at the Shaftsbury Barracks, a department that patrols 205 miles of state highways in Vermont. Koss met with troopers, was processed on the charge and released.
Koss is due to appear for arraignment the morning of September 25 in the Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court in Bennington. If found guilty, according to Vermont state law, he could receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.
According to the initial crash investigation, the accident happened when Koss tried to turn left into a parking lot. He stopped at the intersection, signaled a left turn, and “then turned into the path of a northbound 1986 Honda VT700c motorcycle operated by Williams.” The report said Williams was “unable to avoid a collision and was thrown from his motorcycle.”
Investigators also noted in the report that the accident happened on a road consisting of “dry blacktop free of debris or defects.” Though Williams was critically injured, Koss only suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Koss is a fellow performer and lover of the arts who studied musical theater in college and appeared in multiple touring productions. Since 2018, he has worked in marketing and development for the local Dorset Theatre Festival. In 2017, per The Daily Gazette, Williams appeared in a production of “American Buffalo” at the historic 298-seat theater, which Broadway World reported was built from two pre-revolutionary barns.
Several weeks before the accident, Koss was named the theater’s new managing creative director, according to a profile in the Manchester Journal of him and his husband, Will Rucker, who was named executive artistic director, taking over for Dina Janis, who resigned last fall after 13 years with the organization.
Hours after Williams’ death, Janis told the Brattleboro Reformer, “My heart goes out to his family. He was so happy with his house, and his life, and his wife, and his kids. And Pam is one of the most beautiful and generous people I know. It’s absolutely tragic. I don’t know what else to say.”
On June 19, the Dorset Theatre Festival’s Facebook page paid tribute to Williams by writing, “Dorset Theatre Festival joins the rest of the world, especially our family and community here in Dorset, in sadness at the loss of Treat Williams. A brilliant actor, loving husband and father, excellent neighbor, and a local hero to so many. He will be missed and remembered. He and his family will be forever in our hearts.”
Williams loved supporting and being part of local theater companies. In fact, just two nights before his death he was on stage at the Great Barrington Public Theatre, the Berkshire Eagle reported, to perform an excerpt of a play he wrote about Ulysses S. Grant.
Treat Williams’ Family Shares Glimpses of His Favorite Place, People & Pets
In addition to acting, Williams loved his farm and his family, often sharing views on Instagram of their home and sprawling land in Manchester, Vermont, plus photos of his wife, kids and their dogs.
“I’ve been all over the world, and I’ve never seen a place as beautiful as Vermont,” Williams told Vermont Magazine in 2021.
So on July 3, his daughter Ellie posted a photo from the farm on his Instagram account and wrote that the family had decided to keep Williams’ feed going.
She wrote, “Hi folks! Ellie here, reporting live with Gill and our mamma, Pam. We’re going to keep the dream alive and continue to share life in Vermont with you all. Hope you enjoy the journey with us! We miss you dad ❤️”
The Williams family has shared multiple photos of the lush farmland since, but posted a photo of themselves for the first time on July 31, taken during a private celebration of life service held at the farm days after Williams’ death.
The photo was captioned, “As time passes, the grief doesn’t get any easier, but life is fragile. We are trying to live every day like it’s our last, and appreciate the time on this beautiful planet that we are lucky to call home. Here’s a picture from Treat’s Celebration of Life of the family 🤍”
In addition to replies and well wishes from many fans, some of Williams’ famous friends also commented on the latest post.
Sharon Lawrence, who played his wife in Hallmark’s “The Christmas House” movies, wrote, “You all are the embodiment of Treat’s joy and his passion for your happiness. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us.❤️”
Fellow “The Christmas House” cast member Brad Harder wrote, “Beautiful- thanks for sharing ❤️”
Meghan Ory, who played one of Williams’ daughters on “Chesapeake Shores,” commented, “Thinking of you all and sending so much ❤️love”